I haven’t written on this topic for a while for many reasons but mostly I have come to a realisation that I didn’t have when I first began writing this series:
There should be no skinny versus curvy wars. None of us, myself included should idealise one or the other or try to strive for it either (I know it seems I have repeated this point more than once but it’s different this time!). I haven’t come to this realisation due to the fact that I have recently lost a significant amount of weight but actually came to this realisation while I was still overweight. 2013 for me was by no means fun and it forced me to grow up in more ways than one, and, most importantly, it enabled me to see things in perspective. Including my obsession with weight and my own body image.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to lead a healthy lifestyle but there is something wrong with wanting it for the wrong reasons. I still stand by what I’ve written in my previous blog posts on this topic but, it’s also important to take into consideration that the first post in this series was written over two years ago. I was insecure about myself, still striving to be “skinny” and still having difficulty in letting go of the idea that I would no longer be a size 6-10. But more importantly I was convinced once I lost all that weight and achieved the skinny ideal, everything in my life would fall into place. Ridiculous I know, but it was the truth too. 2013 was the year that changed everything, and that included my perceptions of others but mostly of myself.
This time last year I would walk an hour to work and sometimes back, I would eat healthy enough (well healthier than now) but despite all of this, that extra weight would not shift. I was stuck at size 14-16 and despite my best efforts, the stress and drama got the better of me and I did start to comfort eat but, still maintained my walks to work. So by the time 2013 came to an end, so many things had happened that I seemed to stop caring about a lot of stuff including my weight. It’s not like I deliberately let myself go, but in the grand scheme of things my weight and my own perceptions of what I looked like were the least of my worries. So while I expected 2014 to be no different when it came to my weight woes and body image perceptions – it seems to be the year that changed everything.
I can’t exactly explain how I managed to get to a size 10-12 (still baffles me to write that) and still a size 14 on the hips (I may have lost weight but I am still a curvy girl and I am ok with that). I wish there was some secret (everyone keeps asking me that) there isn’t. Really there isn’t and you are talking to the expert dieter here. The person who has tried everything and anything to lose weight. I mean I’ve tried the blood diet (food catered to your own blood type), cutting out carbs (I’ve learnt recently unless you can’t handle gluten, it can cause you to gain weight), cutting out certain proteins, fruits, vegetables, the strict protein diet combined with a tough exercise routine (delicious but pointless unless you are an professional athlete or whatever) and so many other types I’ve lost count. And despite my best efforts especially last year, I didn’t lose any weight, if anything I gained it. So what can I attribute to my weight loss this year, I don’t know. But one conclusion that it hasn’t been healthy, and it’s probably been stress.
It has to be because I haven’t been exercising, I haven’t been eating healthily, I will be honest, I have been eating a lot of junk food. But maybe at times not enough food. I know I’ve been judgmental perhaps even envious of those who manage to limit their portions, but for some reason my metabolism changed, and I noticed I could only handle smaller meals. But again I have done this before and still not lost weight. But I suppose the difference this time is I’m not aware that I’m limiting myself, but I simply know when I’m full and can’t eat anymore. So maybe gradual smaller portions and change of appetite may have created my latest weight milestone. But I really think or maybe like to think that I’ve finally stopped obsessing about it (I mean I meant to write this in April but I got lazy and time passed and now it’s September). I have also become more educated on eating, eating disorders and most importantly the pressure of body image and the pressure we put on ourselves.
I started volunteering for Bodywhys in January and it really has been a fulfilling experience but most importantly, an eye opener. I was aware of EDNOS(eating disorder not specified), anorexia and bulimia but an eating disorder I probably relate to all too well, is BED (binge eating disorder). I think the education on the topic made me feel less alone when it came to the negative and sometimes irrational thoughts I’ve had in my head about my weight. When I was unemployed, living at home and still overweight, I would secretly binge eat for no reason, really no reason. I had 3 bowls of cornflakes in a row, when everyone else had gone to bed because I can’t even explain it. I felt I was being denied, I felt pointless about my diet efforts but mostly, I felt that well I’ve screwed up already, might as well go the full hog when it came to food. My state of mind wasn’t good, I wasn’t happy and I think if my parents hadn’t noticed I probably would have had the whole box of cornflakes at the time. The sad thing is I hate cereal and I especially hate cornflakes. So that’s a sure sign that my behaviour then was self destructive and I was trying to fill some never ending void about my own body demons.
I think volunteering helped me realise that it’s ok to feel this way but it doesn’t own you either. I finally gained control of my weight and not through efforts of trying to be something that I’m not, but being ok with what I am. Then something crazy happened, I went down three sizes in three months. I didn’t believe it at the time though as I was preoccupied again with other things. I was working a new schedule coming to grips being with back in Dublin again and just moving on with my life. Then I began receiving compliments about how “slim I was” and how much “weight I’ve lost” and how I should “keep it up because I didn’t want to go back to the way things were.”
I’ve received compliments about my weight before which I have always taken with a pinch of salt. Because let’s face it, when you are constantly trying to lose weight and are struggling, people will try to support you in any way and compliments about your appearance seem like a safe option. So after hearing so many nice words, you stop believing them after a while. But let’s face it all those compliments don’t matter if you don’t really believe them yourself. My point is, when I did start receiving compliments about my weight, I still didn’t believe that I had actually lost the weight to merit such remarks. It’s only when my old reliable clothes became too baggy and I was finally forced to go shopping for a new wardrobe that it hit me: I needed smaller sizes.
I won’t lie, I never thought I would be this size again or would receive the attention that I have for my new found figure. But despite all the compliments I have received which are nice of course, I can’t really accept them. Maybe through what I’ve learnt through my work with BodyWhys, I can really see the impact of someone constantly focusing on your weight can have on a person. And believe me, it does feel constant even if that’s not the intention. There’s nothing wrong with being healthy but there’s something wrong with idealising weight loss, especially if it was achieved by the wrong reasons and for the wrong reasons.
I didn’t plan on losing weight and it’s a great that I did but I am far from healthy right now. I do think this is more of a society thing which I will rant about in another blog post, but I will use two of my friends who complimented me in the best way (I love them for it) as an example. One said “wow you look great, not that you didn’t look great before” and the other said “beautiful either way” in response to an Instagram post about my weight. To me they’re the compliments I remember the most because it shows that yes I have lost weight, and I look “great”, but we think you’re awesome no matter how you look and that’s more important than anything. Well, to me it is.
I am not skinny but that’s ok. Despite losing weight I am still insecure about myself and hell sometimes about my figure, but that’s ok. Do I love food a lot? Yes I do, especially unhealthy treats and that’s ok too – well, in moderation. I know I’ve made progress I don’t worry about pictures anymore, I’ve even started taking selfies… which is a big deal but I will never be at the Chainsmokers‘ level. But I finally feel for the first time since starting this unintentional series that I am ok with who I am and how I look, and it’s the best feeling in the world. I don’t know how things will work out in the future, what I will weigh or what I will look like or even if I will try exercising or dieting again. But that’s ok too and I really think that’s what any of us should aim for – not perfection, but just simply being ok with what we have and with who we are. And who knows, maybe my amazing weight loss secret is acceptance or my metabolism changing, one of those. So does that mean I finally finished talking about this subject and my rants about the pressures that surround us? Probably but hey, that’s ok too.